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'Downton Abbey' Finale Review: Misjudged Send-Off Proves Why It's Time For Record-Breaking Show To End

09/11/2015 09:22 GMT | Updated 09/11/2015 09:59 GMT

I'd heard the 'Downton Abbey' cast were in tears as they filmed these very last scenes of what has been, indisputably, a telly phenomenon - and watching this misjudged finale, I felt like crying too.

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Why The Treatment Of Thomas Barrow Makes No Sense...

'Downton's loyal viewers who stayed with the show all the way through this increasingly plot-free series were treated to a surprise wedding, as the Crawleys' eldest daughter Mary was hitched to Henry Talbot, thanks to a marriage licence he just happened to have in his waistcoat pocket.

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Will she, won't she? Oh, whatever!

But why, oh why, did Julian Fellowes think we cared so much whether Mary's Miss Havisham heart would finally be cracked open by that swaggering racing driver? Hours of our lives went by as she dilly-dallied, gazed out of the window, took her hat on and off a few times, argued with the long-suffering Tom Branson, before finally summoning her lucky suitor. I must admit, when she finally clicked her fingers, I really wanted him to say he'd changed his mind - utterly beastly of me, I know, but a) she had just ruined her sister's life and b) for heaven's sake, people, there's a man in the house that you've all made so miserable he's tried to do away with himself in the bath.

As Fellowes toiled lovingly with Mary's every eyebrow arch, the criminally-underwritten character Thomas Barrow finally succumbed to the despair overlooked by characters both up- and downstairs this entire series.

"I feel so guilty," said Robert. "No, I do, m'lord," trumpeted Carson. The correct answer is, you're both right. But, instead, you're all still worrying about who's going to sit where at the dinner table - shame on you, Mary, shame on you Tom Branson for taking so long to tell her off, shame on me for still watching it, and yet…

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Edith and Bertie weren't so fortunate, after Mary accidentally on purpose put her foot in it about Marigold

Frustratingly, there was just enough of the show's initial magic to warm our hearts, and remind us just what Julian Fellowes can do. Mrs Patmore's 'house of sin' could have been a cracking storyline, and replaced that flipping hospital debacle, if it had emerged about five episodes ago, instead of providing a 10-minute anecdote for a few patronising drawing room titters. Spratt must surely win the award for most random plot revelation of the entire six series, and surely deserved more than five seconds on screen.

However, the champion bearer of enduring sweetness was Mr Molesley as he brought everything he was, all that he hoped others could be, into the local classroom with an inspiring speech about transcending your circumstance. If there is a spin-off series to be had, this is surely the man.

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Mrs Patmore found herself the landlady of a house of ill repute

Everywhere else, though, characters creaked through scenes with lines they've all said a million times before now. I've loved 'Downton Abbey' since it started, and yes, I will notice a Dowager-sized hole in the schedule when the autumn leaves fall next year, but this finale, and sixth series as a whole, has most certainly proved the wisdom of Lord Fellowes' decision to put his pen down and consign the residents of this gothic pile to their colourful but ultimately inconsequential history.

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